Studies Investigate the Best Ways to Clean your Hand

Studies Investigate the Best Ways to Clean your Hands

Two recent studies looked at how you clean your hands and how you dry them. The first study suggests that spending more time washing your hands in a certain way is worth the effort. The journal for Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology posted a study comparing two different cleaning methods. It found the six-step hygiene technique recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) eliminated more bacteria than the three-step method currently promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers observed 42 physicians and 78 nurses at a hospital in Scotland. The participants completed hand-washing using an alcohol-based rub after delivering care to patients. The six-step technique was determined to be more effective. However, the WHO’s longer hand-washing process takes more time at nearly 43 seconds, compared to the CDC’s three-step process at 35 seconds. The process also found that only 65 percent of the study participants completed the entire process despite being observed and having instructions in front of them. Meanwhile, there was 100 percent compliance by those using the three-step process. The study found that the back of the hands, the back of the thumbs and the back of the index fingers were most frequently missed areas, regardless of the techniques used.

The CDC method includes three steps:

  • Apply the sanitizer to one palm
  • Rub both palms together
  • Rub product over your hands until dry

The WHO method includes six steps:

Rub hands palm to palm
Right palm over left dorsum with interlaced fingers and vice versa
Palm to palm with fingers interlaced
Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked
Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa
Rotational rubbing, backwards and forwards with clasped fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa


Download the WHO Hand Cleaning Procedure Poster

However, getting your hands clean isn’t only about the washing process. Another recent study led by the University of Westminster in London, reviewed the best ways to dry your hands. Researchers looked at three different methods, paper towels, a warm air dryer and a jet air dryer and published the results in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.

Participants washed their gloved hands in a solution of a harmless virus before using the three drying methods. Researchers collected samples from the air and from the surfaces at different distances from the drying location. The results show the jet air dryers were by far the worse, when it came to how far it spread the virus. In fact, if found that the dryers sent some of the viruses nearly 10 feet from the dryer itself. According to the study, paper towels spread the least amount of germs.

Image Source: World Health Organization

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